Arcade Fire, Brixton Academy, London, March 2007
If there was an album we nearly thrashed to death during 2005, it was Arcade Fire’s Funeral. For once the hype in Britain seemed to be truly deserved, and the way the band sounded like they were playing and singing as if their lives were at stake shone through with every listen. So we had to see it live. Weirdly, we were at a festival in Ireland (Day 30, Electric Picnic in 2005) where they were playing, but we had not really heard of them yet. We missed their set because we were at a Flaming Lips Q+A session with Wayne Coyne, and trying to get him to autograph our passports. We were not missing this gig at Brixton though, and earlier in the week just missed a low key warm up show for fan club types we were told about. The Academy was heaving, this was their return to the UK for big some festival slots and this was the big headline gig. They were now established royalty, one superb album under their belt, and 'the difficult second' Neon Bible just released. That urgency I wrote about above in the playing was a real frenzy live; with 6 or 7 members on stage all going hammer & tongs at it. Changing instruments, yelling vocals, tossing drums in the air, huge backdrop projections and smaller retro-style TVs. There was even a big pipe organ on stage for the Neon Bible track ‘My Body Is A Cage’. Violins, guitars, percussion, organs, even hurdy-gurdys get an appearance. The highlights were ‘No Cars Go’, ‘Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)’, ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Powerout)’, ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘Rebellion (Lies)’. And ‘Wake Up’ as the encore was my cherry on top - talk ablut sing-a-long. To cap it all off, the second and final encore track was a cover of The Clash's ‘Guns of Brixton’, where the band emerged sneakily right down the front, in the crowd, and did an unplugged, almost acapella version (maybe with only an accordion and a single drum, I think) of the song that required everyone to majorly shoosh to hear it… then raucously join in when signalled. Pretty darn cool. Track pick is ‘Wake Up’, one of my fave tracks from Funeral. Great, great band.